US 20070007336 A1
A method and service system are provided for enabling a user to access a resource associated with an intended usage zone of an artefact by reading an access code from a tag physically associated with the artefact. Prior to physical commitment of the artefact to the usage zone or its proxy, the tag access code is un-associated with the usage zone or resource in a user-accessible service system. Once the artefact has been physically committed to the usage zone or its proxy, the tag access code and a usage zone identifier are captured. The captured data is then used to establish an association in the user-accessible service system enabling the access code to be mapped to the resource or an identifier of the resource.
1. A method of enabling user access to a resource associated with an intended real-world usage zone of an artefact, the method comprising:
(a) physically committing the artefact and a physically-associated tag to said zone or a proxy therefor, the tag serving to provide a resource access code that prior to physical commitment of the tag to said zone or its proxy, is un-associated with the zone in a user-accessible service system;
(b) at the time of carrying out (a), or subsequently, capturing data comprising the access code, and a zone identifier; and
(c) using the captured data to establish an association in the user-accessible service system enabling the access code to be mapped to the zone-dependent resource or an identifier thereof.
2. A method according to
3. A method according to
where there are, or are to be, multiple said sets associated with the zone, a set identifier for distinguishing between sets associated with the zone; and
where there are or are to be, multiple resource identifiers in a set, an index for distinguishing between resource identifiers in the set;
the service system in (c) using the zone identifier together with any set identifier and any index in the captured data, to associate the access code with a corresponding resource identifier or placeholder therefor.
4. A method according to
an explicit portion of the access code;
at least a portion of the access code that has been pre-bound in the service system to a set value distinguishing between said sets;
an identifier separate from the zone identifier and access code.
5. A method according to
an explicit portion of the access code;
at least a portion of the access code that has been pre-bound in the service system to an index value;
an identifier separate from the zone identifier and access code.
6. A method according to
7. A method according to
8. A method according to
9. A method according to
10. A method according to
11. A method according to
in order to enable a user to access any one of a set of multiple zone-dependent resources, the artefact is physically committed to the usage zone, or its proxy, along with a plurality of tags physically associated with the artefact, each tag serving to provide a respective resource access code that prior to physical commitment of the tag to said zone or its proxy, is un-associated with the zone in the user-accessible service system, but in respect of which a respective said association is subsequently established in the user-accessible service system;
in (b) data is captured in respect of one tag only, this data including an index value for distinguishing between said tags; and
in (c) a respective said association between the access code of each tag and a corresponding resource identifier or placeholder therefor is established by using a predetermined inter-relationship between the access codes and corresponding index values.
12. A method according to
the said association established in (c) in the user-accessible database is between the access code and the zone identifier; and
the access code is adapted, in a manner known to the service system, to distinguish between resources associated with the zone.
13. A method according to
the said association established in (c) in the user-accessible database is between the access code and a specific said set; and
where said specific set comprises multiple resources, the access code is adapted, in a manner known to the service system, to distinguish between the resources of the set.
14. A method according to
15. A method according to
16. A method according to
17. A method according to
18. A method according to
19. A method according to
20. A method according to
21. A service system comprising:
a data store for storing association data associating real-world artefact usage zones with corresponding resources;
an association arrangement for receiving a data message comprising a resource access code as yet un-associated in the service system with a said real-world usage zone, and a zone identifier identifying a said usage zone; the association means being arranged to use said data message to modify said association data to establish an association for enabling the access code to be mapped to a zone-dependent resource or an identifier thereof, and
a user-accessible translation arrangement for receiving a user-input access code and using said association data to map the input access code to a zone-dependent resource or an identifier thereof which is then output to the user.
22. Apparatus comprising:
the service system of
a portable device for capturing both a resource access code from a tag physically-associated with an artefact physically committed to a usage zone or a proxy therefor, and a zone identifier identifying a said usage zone, the device being arranged to form the captured resource access code and zone identifier into a said data message and to send that message to the service system.
The present invention relates to a method of enabling user access to a resource associated with an intended real-world usage zone of an artefact, the artefact having one or more associated tags which serve to provide resource access codes.
As used herein, the term “artefact” means any form of physical object; in many cases the artefact will be a poster or other item of advertising or informational material.
Furthermore, as used herein, the “usage zone” of an artefact includes specific locations such as an installation site for an artefact in the form of a poster (the site being where the poster is intended to be used by being read), general locations such as a postal code area or an area covered by a delivery round (the area being where an artefact is intended to be used), and zones that do not have a fixed geographic location such as a display zone for a poster inside a public transport vehicle.
The term “tag” as used herein means a passive or active element that can be used to provide an access code, and is integral with, incorporated in, attached or attachable to, or otherwise capable of being physically associated with a tangible artefact. Examples include, but are not limited to, barcodes or other machine readable indicia (whether visible, infra-red, magnetic etc. in form) that have been applied to, or formed integrally with, an artefact, and active or passive memory tags. Many machine-readable tag technologies are known and others are likely to be developed in the future; the present invention, whilst using such tags, is not limited to any particular type of tag whether existing or to be developed. As many such technologies are known, no description is given herein regarding the tags or how the access codes are read from the tags; it is, however, noted that in some cases a tag may permit the direct reading of an access code (such as when digitally stored in a memory tag) whereas in other cases a tag may hold an access code in a form that needs interpreting to provide the access code (such as when the access code is represented by a barcode).
The term “resource” as used herein in the context of what is be accessed using an access code, is intended to mean any form of data item or service. In the case of a service, this can be implemented as a program executed either remotely or, after download, at a user device. A service does not necessarily involve two-way interaction with a user and can, for example, simply be some form of logging service noting that a user has read an access code associated with an artefact at a particular usage zone.
It is well known to use a hand-held device to read an access code from a tag associated with an artefact, and then to use this access tag to retrieve a resource over the internet. For example, the access code can itself directly encode the URL of an internet resource. Alternatively and as is described in International Patent Application WO 9701137 (Neomedia), the access code may need to be mapped to the resource URL by a translation (resolution) service.
Typically, there will be many copies (or “instances”) of the poster 10. Provided that the same resource is to be accessed regardless of the site where the poster 10 is installed, each instance of the poster 10 can be identical and the distribution and installation of the posters 10 is uncomplicated, the only initialization step required being to set into the database 17 the appropriate translation between access code and resource URL.
However, it is desirable to be able to customize the resource accessed from a particular instance of the poster 10 to the site at which that instance is installed. This can be achieved by requiring a user to send to the translation service system not only the access code but also an identifier of the site where the access code has been read—the translation service system then returns the URL of the resource corresponding to the access code and the site identifier. A drawback of this arrangement is that the user is required to capture two items of data which is not user friendly particularly as the second item, the site identifier, will be physically associated with the site and not the poster and therefore unlikely to be jointly readable with the poster tag containing the access code.
It is therefore known to make the access code encoded by a tag specific both to the resource and the site concerned. More particularly, a set of posters will be printed that are identical except for the access code encoded by the tag associated with each poster instance, and the translation database is set up to translate each access code into the URL of the corresponding site-dependent resource. Of course, this arrangement requires that each poster is installed at the correct site, namely the site associated with the access codes carried by the poster; to this end, the posters can be printed on the reverse with the intended installation site. However, considerable care still needs to be taken that the correct poster is delivered to each site. To ensure that posters have been correctly distributed, it is known to use a verification process involving the installer of the poster at a particular site using a hand-held device to capture both the access code encoded by the tag associated with the poster, and a site identifier located at the site (for example, a barcode). The captured data is then compared against a database giving the correct pairings of access codes and site identifiers in order to verify that the correct poster has been (or is about to be) installed at the current site. The need to install the correct poster instance at the correct site is cumbersome, notwithstanding that the above-described verification process can minimize the chances of errors.
According to one aspect of the present invention, there is provided a method of enabling user access to a resource associated with an intended real-world usage zone of an artefact, the method comprising:
The present invention also envisages a service system, and apparatus comprising a device and service system, for use in implementing such method.
Embodiments of the installation method of the present invention will now be described, by way of non-limiting example, with reference to the accompanying diagrammatic drawings of the prior art and of embodiments of the invention, in which:
The embodiments of the invention described below relate to the installation of an artefact, in the form of a poster 21, at an usage zone comprising an installation site 20, the poster 21 at least at the completion of installation having one or more physically-associated tags, in the form of barcodes 23-25, that serve to provide respective access codes. As already indicated, the artefacts, usage zone, and tags can take other forms.
The process by which a user subsequently reads an access code and uses it to access the corresponding resource is not described as it is not part of the present invention; the process concerned is, however, similar to that already described with reference to
Similar elements in the various embodiments have been given the same reference numerals and behave in substantially the same manner unless otherwise stated or implied by the operation of interacting elements. It may be noted that references hereinafter to the “poster 21” are, unless otherwise stated, intended to mean one specific poster instance rather than all instances of the same poster design that differ only in the associated access codes.
Turning now to a consideration of the first embodiment illustrated in
The installer is provided with a hand-held device 26 which includes a barcode reader and which can communicate via a wireless link 27 and a communications infrastructure 28 with the translation service system 30. Typically, the wireless link 27 is provided by a wireless LAN or a Public Land Mobile Network, and the communications infrastructure 28 includes the public internet to which the service system 30 is connected. After putting up the poster 21, the installer uses the device 26 to capture the resource code encoded by tag 23; while still at the site the installer also uses the device 26 to capture a site identifier (site ID) and associate it with the captured access code. The site ID is depicted in
The captured data (access code, site ID) is then passed immediately to the translation service system 30 via the wireless link 27 and communications infrastructure 28.
The service system 30 holds a database 40 with a respective record for each site, as identified by site ID; each site record has a field for holding the URI (Uniform Resource Identifier) of the associated resource and a field for the corresponding access code. Prior to installation of the poster 20 at the site 20, the access code field of the corresponding site record is empty.
Upon receipt of the access code and site ID at the service system 30, a Find process 32 uses the site ID to look up the corresponding site record 41 (see dashed arrow 34). Prior to being used to look up the site record, the site ID may be translated in form (see dashed box 31); for example, where the site ID is in the form of a number, it may be translated into corresponding geographic coordinates using a translation table, not shown. For clarity, this translation process represented by box 31 is omitted from the depictions of the other embodiments of the present invention.
Upon the relevant site record 41 being found, an Associate process 33 inserts the access code received with the site ID into the relevant field of that record (see arrow 35), thereby establishing an association between the access code and the resource URI of the resource allocated to the site 20.
The translation service system 30 is now ready to provide a translation of the access code provided by tag 23 into the URI of the corresponding resource.
Although it is preferable that the access code and site ID captured at site 20 are passed to the service system 30 as soon as they are captured so that the association between access code and resource URI is immediately established, this is not essential and the installer can delay sending the captured data. Indeed, the device 26 need not have any remote communication capability provided it can store the captured access code and site ID in association, the captured data being uploaded to the service system after the installer returns to a facility provided with a suitable connection to the service system 30.
The first embodiment described above with respect to
The second embodiment of the invention, illustrated in
The set ID is captured by the installer along with the site ID and access code at the time of installation of the poster 21 at site 20. This can be achieved in a number of different ways. In
Regardless of the manner in which the set ID is captured by the installer device 26, it is passed in association with the site ID and access code to the service system 30. The database 40 now comprises multiple records for each site, each such record corresponding to a different set as identified by a set ID held in a field 44 of the record. Each record also includes a corresponding resource URI and an access code field. It will be appreciated that the structure and arrangement of the database 40 is merely illustrative and other database structures can be used.
The Find process 32 of the service system 30 uses the received site ID and set ID to find the corresponding record 42 (arrow 34). The Associate process 33 then inserts the received access code into the record (arrow 35) thereby establishing an association between the access code and the corresponding resource URI.
The third embodiment illustrated in
During installation of the poster 21 in the
The Find process 32 of the service system 30 uses the received site ID and suffix ID to find the corresponding record 43 (arrow 34). The Associate process 33 then inserts the received access code into the record (arrow 35) thereby establishing an association between the access code and the corresponding resource URI.
The same procedure can then be repeated in respect of the access codes provided by tags 24 and 25. However, preferably, provision is made for enabling the access codes of these other tags to be automatically associated with the correct resource URIs on the basis of the association established for the first read access code provided by tag 23. This is possible where a predetermined inter-relationship exists between the access codes and their suffix values.
Such an inter-relationship can be the result of a predictable progression of the access codes with suffix—for example, the access codes can have the suffix ID as their terminating element whereby if the access code associated with one suffix ID is known (that is, the first processed access code) then the access codes associated with the other suffix ID can be predicted and inserted into the corresponding records associated with the site concerned.
Another way of providing a known inter-relationship between access codes of a set and their respective suffix values is for the service system to have knowledge of which access codes are grouped together as a set and what is the association of access codes to suffix IDs in this grouping (this latter association can simply be provided by ordering the list in suffix order). In this case, the first processed access code serves to identify the relevant grouping of access codes and these codes can then be inserted according to their associated suffixes into the appropriate record for the site concerned. This arrangement does not require any particular structure for the access codes which can be random.
Dashed “associate all” box 36 and dotted arrows 37 in
The fourth to eighth embodiments to be described hereinafter with reference to FIGS. 5 to 9 respectively, all relate to the situation where the site 20 has multiple associated sets of resources with at least the set of interest in relation to the poster 21 being installed having multiple resources. Thus the poster 21 has multiple tags 23-25 providing respective access codes that are to be associated with corresponding respective resources of a particular one of several sets of resources associated with the site 20. The fourth to eighth embodiments thus concern the combination of the situations depicted in the second and third embodiments and require both the use of a set@site ID and an in-set suffix ID to identify which resource of those associated with the site 20 is to be associated with a given access code.
In the fourth embodiment (
In this example the database 40 comprises a table 50 with a respective record for each combination of site and set; each such record holds the ID of a resource-set record 51. Each resource-set record 51 contains for each suffix associated with the set, the corresponding resource URI and a field for insertion of an access code. It will again be appreciated that the structure and arrangement of the database 40 is merely illustrative and other database structures can be used.
The Find process 32 of the service system 30 uses the received site ID and set ID to find the corresponding record 47 in table 50 (arrow 34A) and hence the corresponding resource-set record 51 (arrow 34B), and then uses the received suffix ID to locate (arrow 34C) the suffix column where the received access code is to be inserted. The Associate process 33 then inserts the received access code into the field concerned (arrow 35) thereby establishing an association between the access code and the corresponding resource URI.
The same procedure can then be repeated in respect of the access codes provided by tags 24 and 25. However, as for the third embodiment, provision is preferably made for enabling the access codes of these other tags to be automatically associated with the correct resource URIs in the resource-set record 51 on the basis of the association established for the first-read access code. In the
The fifth embodiment (
The sixth, seventh and eighth embodiments (FIGS. 7 to 9 respectively) all use a structured form of access code. In particular, each access code comprises a main subcode 70, a set subcode 71, and a suffix subcode 72. The main subcode 70 will generally be the same for all access codes associated with a particular poster instance 21 and effectively serves to provide uniqueness for these codes as compared with codes associated with other poster instances (or, indeed, other artefacts). The set subcode 71 serves as the set@site ID for the access code and the suffix subcode 72 serves as the in-set suffix ID for the access code (the set and suffix subcodes therefore do not themselves provide uniqueness to the access code across multiple artefacts). The set@site subcode will generally be the same for all access codes associated with a particular poster instance 21.
It may be noted that it is not intended that all posters 21 to be installed over time at the site 20 have the same main subcode 70 as this would require an unwarranted degree of organisation of poster distribution. It may further be noted that as the main subcode 70 and the set subcode 71 will generally be the same for all access codes associated with a particular poster instance 21, they can in many respects be considered as one.
By structuring the access codes in the foregoing manner, the installer need only capture the site ID and the access codes (or just one code if the “associate all” feature is employed) when installing the poster 21.
More particularly, and with reference to
With regard to the seventh and eighth embodiments, these take advantage of the fact that where an access code explicitly or implicitly indicates the set ID and/or suffix ID, the final association of an access code with a specific resource URI can be delayed until the user presents an access code to the service system. However, upon installation of the poster 21 the access codes still need to be associated with at least the relevant site in the translation service system 30.
The seventh embodiment, shown in
It may be noted that in the
When the site ID and subcode 70 are received at the service system, the Find and Associate processes 32 and 33 operate to insert the subcode 70 against the site ID thereby establishing an association between the two. Upon a user subsequently sending an access code read from one of the tags 23-25, the translation service system 30 uses the main subcode 70 and set subcode 71 of the user-read access code to identify a corresponding resource set record 51, and further uses suffix subcode of the user-read access code to identify the URI of the particular resource to be accessed.
The eighth embodiment, shown in
It will be appreciated that many variants are possible to the above described embodiments of the invention. For example, the site ID itself can be structured in form with one part of the site ID identifying a general location and a second part identifying a particular location at the site for installing an artefact (thus two poster locations that are positioned one above the other may be distinguished by values added to the main part of the site ID).
In the illustrated embodiments of the invention it has been assumed that the resource URIs are already present in the service system database 40 at the time that the poster 21 is being installed. In fact, this is not necessary and the actual URIs could be inserted later into the appropriate fields of the database (the empty fields serving as placeholders). Indeed, the database can be built up dynamically as captured data is received—for example, in relation to the embodiments of FIGS. 5 to 9, whenever a previously unknown set ID is received in respect of a particular site ID, a new resource-set record can be created with placeholders for resource URIs.
As another variant of the illustrated embodiments, rather than storing resource URIs in the service system database 40, it is possible to store the resource items themselves.
It will be appreciated that the manner of communication between the installer device and the service system is not critical and, as already noted, can be effected by a delayed upload (for example, via a direct connection).
Where the service system 30 relies on pre-determined collections and/or groupings of access codes to derive set and suffix IDs and/or to effect an “associate all” function (see the embodiments of
It should be noted that although in describing the illustrated embodiments of the invention only one tagged artefact has been assumed to be installed at the site 20 at any one time, it is possible to have multiple tagged artefacts installed at the same site at the same time though this may require modification to the database structures shown. Thus whilst the database structures of FIGS. 5 to 9 permit tagged artefacts associated with different resource sets to be simultaneously present at the same site, it would not be possible to have multiple tagged artefacts that had different associated codes overall but which referred to the same set of resources. Persons skilled in the art will readily be able to provide alternative database structures permitting this extra flexibility. Similarly, the database structures disclosed above in relation to the embodiments of
The tags providing the access codes will typically be physically associated with the artefacts before installation of the latter at installation sites. However, it is also possible to physically associate the tags and artefacts during installation. For example, where the tags are memory tags, they can be adhered to the artefacts at the installation site (indeed, the tags can be written with their access codes on site, the access codes being ‘captured’ from the tag writing device rather than directly from the tags themselves). Where the tags take the form of indicia displayed by the artefacts, these indicia can be applied to the artefacts on site and, again, the access codes represented by the tags can be ‘captured’ from the printing device (or other type of device used to apply the indicia).
The service system 40 can be distributed in form and can be arranged such that the associations established by the installation process and required for translating a user-read access code into a resource URI, are held separately from the rest of the service system (in other words, in relation to the
In all the embodiments described above, the usage zone of the artefact has been a static installation site. However, as already indicated, this is only one possible form of the usage zone. In other embodiments of the invention, the usage zone can take different forms, for example:
In the above-described embodiments of the invention, the binding of an access code physically associated with an artefact to the artefact usage zone (or to the resources/resource URIs/URI placeholders associated with the artefact usage zone), is done at the time of physical commitment of the artefact to the usage zone (for example, when a poster artefact is installed at an installation site). It is also possible, though not necessarily desirable, to effect the binding subsequent to the physical commitment of the artefact and its physically-associated access code to the usage zone. Another possibility is to effect the binding at the time the artefact, with its physically-associated access code, is physically committed to a usage zone proxy. For example, where the artefacts are magazines with printed access codes, a usage zone proxy can take the form of a dispatch area in a distribution center, the dispatch area being specific to the usage zone where the magazines are to be read (thus, the dispatch area could be specific to a store located in a locality constituting the intended usage zone, or the dispatch area could be specific to a delivery round serving the locality); the artefact can, of course, be something other than a magazine.
Another example of a usage zone proxy is an envelope addressed with a particular postal code where that postal code identifies the usage zone for the artefact, typically advertising material, that is to be put in the envelope; in this case, at the time the artefact is put in the envelope, the access code on the artefact is bound to the usage zone (or related resource/resource URI/URI placeholder) identified by the postal code on the envelope. A similar example is the introduction of advertising material (the artefact with associated access code) into newspapers already sorted by delivery round, the delivery round serving to identity the usage zone. In both these last two examples, the usage zone proxy can be seen to be an item already allocated for delivery to the usage zone.
A further example of a usage zone proxy is a public transport vehicle in the situation where a poster (artefact) is attached to the outside of the vehicle for display along a particular route that constitutes the usage zone; the artefact will generally be physically committed (attached) to the vehicle at a depot outside the usage zone, it being convenient to bind an access code carried by the poster to the usage zone (or related resource/resource URI/URI placeholder) at this time.